Nemesis

Christie, Agatha. Nemesis. New York: Signet, 2000.

Reason read: Christie’s birth month is in September. Read in her honor even though I already read her Murder on the Orient Express this summer.

Nemesis is a breath of fresh air. When seemingly ordinary people: dentists, librarians, park guides (what have you) get caught up in murders again and again and again I get annoyed by the coincidence…especially if it is an unexplained phenomenon. Miss Jane Marple addresses crime’s ability to find her time and time again, acknowledging how odd it is for this elderly women to be an accidental investigator. I found that refreshing.
On to the plot: Jason Rafiel, an extremely wealthy man dies. Seeing his name in the obituary section of the newspaper sends Miss Marple down memory lane. She immediately beings to reminisce about the deceased even though she only met him once on a trip in the Caribbean West Indies. Oddly enough, they were thrown together to solve a mystery. Imagine that! What a coincidence when she receives a letter from the dead man asking her to take on an investigation without any information. If she can, she stands to earn 20,000. Is she to solve a crime or just a conundrum? Miss Jane Marple, elderly and nosy, is up to the task despite not knowing a single detail. Dear readers, this will be the final case of her investigative career. Back to the drama: Mysterious Mr. Rafiel sends her on a garden tour lasting two to three weeks and prearranges every detail for Miss Marple, right down to the people she needs to meet.
A warning to those sensitive to a time before political correctness: there is a lot of ageism and sexism. I have a high tolerance for the days before being polite…except for when they say a woman is asking to be raped. “Girls, you must remember, are far more ready to be raped nowadays than they used to be.” Whatever that means. I also took offense to the line, “Accuracy is more of a male quality than a female one.” Again, whatever.

Confessional: I have always wanted to read a Miss Marple mystery.

Lines I did like, “Well, she hadn’t wished to get mixed up in any murders, but it just happened” (p 8) and “Miss Marple lost herself in a train of thoughts that arose from her thoughts” (p 53).

Author fact: Besides the character of Miss Jane Marple, Christie is responsible for the creation of Inspector Hercule Poirot.

Book trivia: Nemesis is a Miss Marple mystery. The interesting thing is this is the only Miss Marple I am reading for the Lust Challenge, and it is well down the list in the series, meaning it was written late in Christie’s life. I have no idea why Pearl chose this particular title.

Nancy said: Pearl said Nemesis was “written quite late in Christie’s career, but up to her high standards” (Book Lust p 118).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the ginormous chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p 117).


Murder on the Orient Express

Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express. Read by David Suchet. New York: Harper Collins, 2013.

Reason read: July is the month smoke-generating trains were outlawed in New York in 1908. The first electric train ran in 1904.

The first thing you need to know about Murder on the Orient Express is that while it is a widely known title and probably one of Christie’s most popular, it is actually the eighth mystery novel to feature Belgian Inspector, Hercule Poirot. This time he is traveling back to London via the Orient Express. Despite the train being full, Poirot is able to obtain a first class berth, thanks to a friend who works for the railroad. On the very first night an unsavory passenger is stabbed twelve times and dies of his injuries. Initially, this was to be a three-day journey, but travel is halted due to a large storm dropping massive amounts of snow on the tracks. Since no one can get on or off the train, finding the killer should be easy. In true Poirot style the case is solved with wit and humor. The interrogations are the best.

For Murder on the Orient Express, Christie drew from different real-life events for inspiration. First, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932 and her own experiences traveling the Orient Express.

Best quote, “Americans, as you know, don’t care what they pay.”

Author fact: Agatha Christie was a VAD in the First World War.

Book trivia: Murder on the Orient Express was made into two movies, three separate radio programs, three different television series, a play, and a video game. I told you it was popular!

Nancy said: Interestingly enough, Pearl first mentioned Murder on the Orient Express in relation to another book, The 8:55 to Baghdad, by Andrew Eames. Later in the chapter she includes Murder as a “classic crime novel.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Making Tracks By Train” (p 138).


August Behind Me

August was…the final push to move back into the new library space. People who used to work there won’t recognize it. August was also the finishing of the deck and patio. It looks awesome. Sidelined by injury I only ran 60.86 miles this month. But. But! But, here are the books:

  • Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill
  • Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (AB)
  • Lost City of Z by David Grann
  • The High and the Mighty by Ernest Gann
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
  • Children in the Woods by Frederick Busch
  • Flora’s Suitcase by Dalia Rabinovich
  • ADDED: Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  • ADDED: Dorothy Gutzeit: Be True and Serve by Dorothy Gutzeit (ER)

My favorite was Dogs of Riga followed by Anarchy and Old Dogs.


Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Read by Robin Bailey. Kingston, RI: BBC Audiobook America, 1987.

Reason read: Christie’s birth month and I had just finished a book following Christies’s footsteps, 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames.

Who has never heard of Hercule Poirot? He’s almost as popular as Sherlock Holmes. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Poirot emerges from retirement to uncover the killer of Roger Ackroyd, found with a knife in his neck. But, that is not the first death in the story. Mrs. Ferrars commits suicide after admitting she poisoned her husband.
It is easy to see why this story is such a classic. It has it all: secrets, romance, murder, suicide, blackmail, and a bevy of suspects (including a butler). The story is told from the perspective of Dr. James Settles, the doctor who was on hand to examine Roger Ackroyd’s body after the murder. He is the perfect narrator as he becomes Poirot’s right hand man and seems to be involved…in everything.

Author fact: Christie was also an avid archaeologist.

Book (audio) trivia: Robin Bailey does a great job with all the different voices.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Tricky, Tricky” (p 222).


8:55 to Baghdad

Eames, Andrew. The 8:55 to Baghdad: from London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie. New York: the Overlook Press, 2005.

Reason read: in honor of the first electric train (July, 1835).

In 2002 Eames embarked on a (mostly) train journey from London, England to Iraq to follow in the footsteps of mystery author Agatha Christie. It is a beyond brilliant idea for Eames is able to weave together a travelogue of his own experiences, historical snapshots of the regions he traverses and an abbreviated biography of one of the world’s best known crime writers of the century. Eames’s journey takes him through Belgium, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria; ending in Damascus on the eve of the Gulf War.

Quote I really liked, “Personally, I feel that travel writers have too much of a responsibility towards the unfamiliar to waste their time endorsing that is already very well-trodden” (p 51). Amen to that.
Another quote, “There is no room on the land for anything as frivolous as parkland in this city while there are still drill bits to be rented out and hub caps to be sold, so if you want a quiet moment to puck your nose, read the paper or hold hands with your loved one then a ferry is the place to do it” (p 196). Okay then.
Last one, “And besides, what sort of chat-up lines do you use on a nation with whom you are about to go to war?” (p 290).

Author fact: According to the dust jacket, Eames is an authority on the Nile. Cool.

Book trivia: I wasn’t expecting photographs but there is a nice sprinkling of Eames’s travels as well as a few of his subject, Agatha Christie.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter of course called “Making Tracks By Train” (p 139).


Mysterious Affair at Styles

Christie, Agatha. The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Duke Classics, 2012. Epub 2015.

Reason read: September is Christie’s birth month.

Told from the point of view of Hastings, a guest at Styles, The Mysterious Affair at Styles tells the tale of a woman poisoned for her inheritance. Desperate for answers, Hastings introduces his friend, Inspector Hercule Poirot, to the dead woman’s son and to the crime in the hope the detective can solve the mystery. As with any mystery there is a revolving cast of characters, all suitable for the label “guilty.”
Having never seen film or television versions of Hercule Poirot, I picture him as a smug little man. His review of the crime scene is fascinating and I could picture his scrutiny perfectly. His relationship with Hastings is humorous, almost patronizing. The key to remember with this mystery is once a man is acquitted of a specific crime he can never be tried again for the same offense.

Lines worth mentioning: “Imagination is always a good servant and a bad master” (p 91) and “Who on earth but Poirot would have thought of a trial for murder as a restorer of conjugal happiness” (p 238).

Author fact: There is a lot of mystery surrounding Christie’s own life. At one point she herself became the center of a mystery as a missing person.

Book trivia: The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Inspector Hercule Poirot’s first appearance in an Agatha Christie mystery.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Tickle Your Funny Bone” (p 220).